STEP 3: Determining Special Education Eligibility

Criteria state that to qualify for special education services, a child must have one of the 13 disabilities as defined by IDEA and the impact of the disability must create a need for services. If your child’s performance is not hindered by his/her disability, he/she may not qualify for services, even if he/she has one of the 13 disabilities. Consequently, determining if a child is eligible is not cut and dry. It really depends on the child and his/her specific situation.

STEP 4: The IEP Meeting

At the IEP meeting, whoever performed the evaluation will share the following information with the team:

  • Your child’s current level of performance

  • Concerns and assessment results

  • Teacher reports

  • Psychological testing results

  • Speech and language results, if appropriate

  • Counseling input, if appropriate

The team can be comprised of any and all of the following individuals: special education teacher, child’s current classroom teacher, other school specialists or consultants, school administrator, advocate, parent and child (if child is over eight).

IEP Meeting Tips:

  • Share concerns

  • Generate a list of questions

  • Bring a file of important documents

  • When negotiating, acknowledge everyone’s good intentions

  • Ask questions if something is unclear

  • Remember that you are speaking for your child

  • Remember that you and the school are there for a common purpose

  • Inform the case manager if you are bringing others to the IEP meeting

  • If consensus cannot be reached, you have the option to take it to due-process (i.e. take legal action)

STEP 5: Writing the Individualized Education Program (IEP)

A case manager from your child’s school will be assigned. This is usually a special education teacher or specialist that is named as the person responsible for ensuring that your child’s IEP plan is implemented correctly.

The Individualized Education Program should ensure your child has access to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and should consider your child’s strengths, parent concerns, assessment results and areas of need related to academic and developmental areas. The Individualized Education Program is a written, legal document that must include:

  • Your child’s present level of functioning

  • Strengths, weaknesses, abilities and educational needs

  • Area(s)of eligibility (based on the 13 categories named in IDEA)

  • Annual goals and objectives

  • Designated instructional services (i.e. supplemental services)

  • Program placement
  • Accommodations and level of participation in assessments

  • Next steps

IEP Plan Tips:

  1. A parent can agree or disagree with all or part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Signing for partial acceptance allows the team to implement the parts of the plan you’ve agreed upon while other issues are being resolved.

  2. The IEP forms themselves can be confusing, so be prepared to ask questions. They vary from state to state and from district to district.

  3. The Individualized Education Program must include measurable, annual goals as well as short-term objectives that describe how your child will achieve the goals. Goals and services are the nuts and bolts of your child’s individualized educational plan. The goals and objectives reflect what the IEP team has determined to be appropriate.